Sunday 21 July 2019

Students urged to get mumps vaccine after outbreak at colleges

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Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

An outbreak of mumps has affected Blackrock and Trinity colleges in the capital, with students prompted to get vaccinated if they weren’t immunised with the MMR as children.

Blackrock College has cancelled a rugby match against St Michael’s College on Sunday after the mumps alarm was raised in the school on Friday.

A staff member at the school confirmed the outbreak had been discovered during the day and all “precautions” were being taken, including cancelling the rugby match.

It’s believed the outbreak was discovered in Blackrock’s boarding school.

A spokeswoman for St Michael’s College said they had been alerted the Leinster Schools Senior Cup quarter final was postponed after contact from the Leinster Rugby Schools Committee.

St Michael's said Blackrock had cancelled the game due to concerns there was a mumps outbreak. 

Trinity College has also been affected with a suspected mumps outbreak. The college lies right within the heart of Dublin’s city centre.

In an email to staff and students, the director of the college health service, Dr David McGrath wrote: “There have been a number of cases of mumps in the Dublin area recently and we have had some cases of mumps here in college over the past week or so.

“I would encourage all of our college community to check they have had the two MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) vaccines and to make an appointment for vaccination either at college health or with their own GP if they’re not protected.

“I would recommend all students check their childhood vaccination history with their family GP.”

Students were asked to stay away from college for five days after swelling developed as a precaution.

In a letter sent to staff and students from Dr Mary Conlon, senior medical officer at the HSE, the health professional laid out the situation.

“There have been cases in your college and you may have been exposed,” Dr Conlon wrote.

“If you have not had mumps and have not received two doses of MMR, then it is quite likely you will get mumps.

“Mumps is a viral infection. Symptoms include fever, headache, and swelling of cheek and jaw.

“Meningitis (inflammation of the covering of the brain) can occur but usually resolves without problems.

“More rarely, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain itself) and deafness can occur.  In adolescent and adult males, mumps can cause inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) but contrary to popular belief, it is not a frequent cause of infertility. 

“People are infectious for up to seven days before the cheek swelling appears and remain highly infectious for five days after symptoms develop.”

According to the HSE, there’s been an increase in mumps in Ireland since August 2018.

In 2018, 576 mumps alerts were made to the HSE, provisional data shows.

The escalation of cases was first noted in August that year, and has continued into 2019. 

So far this year, 274 reports of mumps have been made in total.  Cases are being reported from all regions.

Since August 2018, when the increase was first noted, the majority of those affected had been found to be aged 15 to 19 years (34 pc), followed by those aged 20 to 24 years (26 pc), and 10 to 14 years  (12 pc).

Vaccination status was not available for the majority of cases.

The HSE said: “In the absence of vaccination status on cases, we cannot state categorically that this resurgence is related to poor uptake of MMR.

“However it is a possibility that this is a contributory factor. The main reason for mumps is normally linked to non vaccination or incomplete vaccination.”

Mumps is a contagious viral infection that had been common in children before the introduction of the MMR vaccine in 1985.

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